Skip to main content

Journal article

Direct democracy and intergenerational conflicts in ageing societies


To evaluate the potential effects of population ageing on the outcomes of direct democracy, we analyze the effect of age on voting decisions in public referendums. In a case study of the Stuttgart 21 referendum on one of the largest infrastructure projects in Germany, we find that support for the project decreased significantly in age. A quantitative review of the relevant literature affirms that similar lifecycle patterns appear to be the norm in referendums on projects that require initial expenditures and pay off in the long run. Population ageing, thus, presents a potential threat to investment-like reform projects.


Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Wolfgang Maennig and Malte Steenbeck

6 June 2019


Journal of Regional Science , pp. 1 27, 2019


DOI: 10.1111/jors.12448

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jors.12448

This Journal article is published under the centre's Urban programme.